Eat More Fish… Today!

Oily Fish

I have previously written many articles regarding the effects that fish intake has on human health. There is a large body of evidence which links the intake of fish with a reduced risk of heart disease, arthritis, dementia, obesity, premature death, and diabetes.

The reason for this is the fact that fish, especially the deep sea variety, contain high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. This type of fat has been shown to decrease blood clotting, inflammation, cholesterol, and blood pressure, as well as improve insulin sensitivity. The increased intake of salmon, sardines, oysters, halibut, herring, tuna, mackerel and trout can also help prevent inflammation which is the number one cause of aging and poor lifestyle dynamics.

Some new research has shown that fish intake, as evidenced by higher blood levels of the omega-3 fatty acids, is associated with a reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

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The researchers looked at data from 2,000 male adults who were otherwise healthy at the beginning of the study and assessed their blood levels of omega-3, hair levels of mercury, and dietary intake utilizing a food diary. They also measured the incidence of type 2 diabetes at four, 11, and 20 years after the beginning of the study.

The results indicated that after an average of almost 20 years of follow up, the men with the highest blood levels of omega-3 fats had a 33% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared to the subjects who had the lowest blood levels. There was no association between the concentration of mercury and the development of diabetes.

Previously, studies have had mixed results when fish intake was measured and not blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which is considered a much better predictor of intake than food diaries or questionnaires.

The present study did just that by assessing the blood levels of omega-3 fats in a large group of subjects over a large time frame and correlating this to the development of type 2 diabetes. In my opinion, this study does conclusively demonstrate that people who eat more fish and consume more omega-3 fats will substantially reduce their risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

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Although there continues to be more of a need for further research completed with diverse subject populations, I would recommend people consume at least two to three servings of oily fish per week. There is just too much evidence that this type of food can reduce the risk of developing many types of chronic diseases, with type 2 diabetes being one of them.


Sources:
“Your Omega-3 Family Shopping List,” WebMD web site; http://www.webmd.com/diet/your-omega-3-family-shopping-list, last accessed Feb. 3, 2014.
McCall, B., “High Omega-3 PUFA Intake Reduces Type 2 Diabetes Risk,” Medscape web site; http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/819533?nlid=45803_1885&src=wnl_edit_dail&uac=205413HV, last accessed Feb. 3, 2014.
Virtanen, J., et al., “Serum Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids and Risk of Incident Type 2 Diabetes in Men: The Kuopio Ischemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study,” Diabetes Care January 2014; 37(1): 189-196.